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Deaths of Children in Hot Cars on the Rise
AAA Reminds Parents and Caregivers to Take Every Precaution
In light of the tragedy in West Haven that has claimed the life of a 4-year-old boy, AAA is reminding parents and caretakers that the deaths of children left in hot cars is an all too common occurrence.
In fact, heat stroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle related deaths for children under the age of 14, with an average of 37 fatalities per year since 1998. And, the numbers are on the rise. There has been an increase in child vehicular heat stroke deaths every year since 2015.
“There have already been 26 deaths across the US this year of children left in hot cars,” says Amy Parmenter, spokesperson for AAA in Greater Hartford. “That's more than all the child heat stroke deaths in 2015".
Even if it is not extremely hot outside, it can get extremely hot inside a vehicle – and deadly - in just a matter of minutes.
Although the circumstances surrounding the death of the 4-year-old are unclear, it is interesting to note that the high temperature in West Haven yesterday was reported to be only 79 degrees.
Look Before You Lock
AAA has joined with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to remind parents and caregivers to “look before you lock.” The deaths of children in hot cars is often because they’ve been forgotten.
“In the summer heat, a vehicle’s interior can reach lethal temperatures very quickly, essentially creating an oven, causing a child’s internal organs to shut down”, Parmenter says.
In the past two decades, 769 children left in vehicles have died of heatstroke, hyperthermia, or other complications. Since 1998, in Connecticut, 4 children have died after being left in hot cars.
Studies have shown about 51 percent of child hot car deaths in vehicles were caused by adults forgetting the children and 29 percent of victims were playing in an unattended vehicle.
Vehicular Heat-Related Statistics:
- A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s body
- A child can die of heat stroke on a 72-degree day
- On a 95-degree day a car can heat up to over 180-degrees
- The steering wheel can reach 159 degrees (temperature for cooking medium rare meat)
- The seats can reach 162 degrees (temperature for cooking ground beef)
- The dash can reach 181 degrees (temperature for cooking poultry)
- At 104-degrees internal organs start to shut down
AAA Urges Motorists To ACT:
- A—Avoid heatstroke by never leaving a child in the car alone, not even for a minute.
- C—Create electronic reminders or put something in the backseat you need when exiting the car - for example, a cell phone, purse, wallet, briefcase or shoes. Always lock your car and never leave car keys or car remote where children can get to them.
- T—Take action and immediately call 9-1-1- if you notice a child unattended in a car.
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AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 58 million members nationwide and more than one million members in Connecticut. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit www.aaa.com.